What Is The First Thing I Should Print With A 3D Printer?

It feels like yesterday that I got my first 3D printer. I know how exciting the feeling is and how that first print is such a big deal to break in the new machine. Here are a few of the 3D prints that any new hobbyist should print!

There is a method to the madness and I put these prints in a specific order to cover different disciplines of 3D printing. If you get stuck on one of these don’t get stressed out, just take a break, check your bed level and your settings and try again.

Calibration Tests

  1. Benchy


Benchy gets its name because it is the benchmark for 3D printing. It has many complex shapes and steep overhangs. Benchy is meant to be printed without support and there are not any specific slicer settings that you should use because the whole point of Benchy is to test out different settings and to hone your printer to perform at its maximum potential.

  1. XYZ 20mm Calibration Cube


This is a critical print especially if you are mating components together like a cellphone case or the 4th print on this list the two-way screw. Most of the time you will need to scale for shrinkage and compensate your Z offset if you are printing something that news high accuracy or if you have an assembly that will be using different filaments.

  1. All In One 3d Printer Test


This is the next step in understanding your 3D printer. 3D printers are incredible at creating complex shapes but there is a limit. If you are going to be modeling and creating designs, understanding the limitations of your 3D printer will save you a lot of time and heartache.

Mating Components 

  1. Two-way Screw


This is an amazing and fun print. This is your introduction to mating components. Threads are a bit tricky if you are using different filaments for the bolt and nut. If you are using the same filament then your shrinkage should be the same but different materials have different shrinkage.

I work in a machine shop so bringing something like this in is always fun to show off to coworkers. We make tons of right-hand and left-hand threads but a two-way thread is something that you don’t see in manufacturing.

Print-in-place parts

  1. Gear Bearing


This is a great introduction to print-in-place moving components. I think print-in-place parts are so cool and they make 3D printing feel more complete as a manufacturing process. Basically in no other industry can you put material in a machine and take out a complete assembly. That is one of the many reasons that 3D printing is so special.

  1. Predator Action Pliers


This is another print-in-place component that adds another dimension to the movement with multiple gears and a sliding gear rail. At this point, you should be more familiar with your printer and tolerances. A good practice at this point would be to print this at 100% then print it again at 50% to feel the difference that different gaps and fit tolerances affect your print.

  1. Cute Mini Octopus


There are hundreds of different types of these flexible creatures and they are all so fun when they are done printing but they are deceptively tricky with their small platforms that make contact with the hot plate.

This is a great print that I would be surprised if you got it right on the first attempt. If you are having problems with the small pads disconnecting from your hot plate I suggest try applying a thin layer of stick glue to your hot plate right before your print starts. There are products on the market specifically for this but I have never had a problem just using stick glue.

  1. Flexi Rex


Yet another Flexi creature. This for me was when I realized that sometimes a well-leveled bed is not good enough. Try before this print to relevel your bed to increase printing accuracy. You might even be able to get away with not using stick glue if your bed is leveled well enough.

If you are wondering, “What am I supposed to do with all these Flexi creatures?” you have two options, keep them, or give them away. I am sure there is at least one friend or kid that you can think of that would cherish a cool 3D printed part. FOr a lot of people 3D printing isn’t readily available so having something that is 3D printed is very unusual.

  1. Collapsing Pirate Sword (Print In Place)


This is only one number on the list but you may need two of these. One for you, and one for your unsuspecting victim that you toss it to moments before you bop them on the head (lightly of course lol please don’t hurt your friends). 

This is a relatively new design but one that I think deserves a lot of attention because it has a lot of different awesome things happening at the same time. There are gaps that if printed too small the print will stick together, combined with small surfaces needing firm bed adhesion, and also steep overhangs and print in place parts. Very cool.

  1. Compact Key Holder With Swivel Lock


This is one of my regrets when I started 3D printing. I tried to make 3D printing do it all and sometimes there is no replacement for solid hardware. Sure you could 3D print a pin to slot in there but it wouldn’t be nearly as strong and would probably only last a few weeks if even that.
There are also some specific printing requirements that the creator outlined so I think this would be a great time to branch out your knowledge of your slicing software.

“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

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